December 23rd, 2009
My wife planted all these wonderful sunflowers, and the hummingbirds, among others, loved them.
My new year’s resolution is, among other things, to move on, to post to this blog, to continue my life again - to move on. I liked what one friend said to me - it isn’t something you get over; it is something you get past. And so I will. But to anyone who has ever wondered, the loss of a spouse really and truly royally sucks. Big time. Very unpleasant.
July 22nd, 2009
Here we are, deep in the throes of a massive recession, and the micro sites have made huge inroads into stock photography. With the storms the stock photo industry have been weathering - the imminent collapse of the newspaper industry, the continuing reduction of all print media, the huge growth of internet usage with lousy pay rates - and the general free-for-all attitude of some internet publishers — it’s a bit of a surprise anyone is left in the stock photo business. But we are, and some of us are doing surprisingly well.
I’m not one of them. But I am continuing to sell stock photos, both from my own effort and through sites such as Alamy. But just what is selling? What subjects are working?
Conventional wisdom says stay away from flowers and scenics - exactly what most of us like to shoot, of course. I subscribe to the idea one should put a heartbeat in the picture, whether human or animal. However, lately I’ve sold a beautiful shot of sweet peas, a very moody storm scene, a mountain scene from the California coast - in addition to some peach harvest shots and a farmer’s market. So go figure.
I’m sticking with my well-thought-out, pre-planned shotgun strategy. I’m shooting first what I want, then what I know will sell, then what might sell, then laying them all out for the buyers to see. For all the reading I’ve done, all the studying of sales and Alamy “zooms”, I have no clear idea of what will sell. If you have a clue, please share!
July 6th, 2009
A couple of weeks ago I entered a new phase in life: I became a widower.
It is much easier to use those words, euphemisms as they are, than to say my wife passed away. We had been dealing with a serious illness for 4 years, you’d think I would be ready; but I was and am not. I am being so careful; I am putting pillows around my words so they do not hurt me any further. I am not ready for this new reality.
This year we were going to buy a motor home and spend more time down on the Colorado river and Arizona desert - maybe live at slab city for a while with the retirees and snowbirds. We were going where the wind would blow us, and we would photo-document the journey. We’d had some great trips already this year - over to the beautiful highway 395 area, Lone Pine, Independence, and the Owens Valley - and down to Indio and Palm Springs.
I’m going to follow our plan. It will be less fun, certainly, but it still is in my heart - maybe even more in my heart - to go spend time in the wild country following the trails of the rainbow chasers. These last years have been increasingly hectic and high-tech as we dealt with doctors at Stanford and other life-saving places; they failed, and I am ready for some sand and hot wind. I’ll be picking out a motor home, stocking it up, setting up a computer system for processing pictures, and feeding my stock files from places on the road.
We’ll see how I do. Wish me luck. I’ll keep you posted via this blog.
Suzie Counsilman, photographing wildflowers, May 2009, near Lone Pine. We miss you.
September 13th, 2008
Just 8 months after its official kickoff, PSC - the PhotoShelter Collection - is closing its doors as a stock agency. The innovative marketing concepts they’d implemented simply didn’t work.
I’m of two minds about it. First, and mostly, I’m sorry; PSC seemed like a great new outlet, an ambitious sales team who could have put the industry on a whole new plane. Second, I’m relieved. While they accepted a decent percentage of my photos, very few of them were “star-quality” - I had very few editor’s choices. Plus, I had a photo that that had s0ld on Alamy turned down for inclusion on PSC. I simply couldn’t shoot the ‘cutting edge’ style they were looking for; but, unfortunately for them, as it turns out, that style wasn’t what the marketplace wanted.
So. like so many others, I have to re-adjust my marketing and make some changes, and I’ll miss the energy PSC brought to the business. But I salute them for giving it one heck of a good try.
July 13th, 2008
Limited Use - the Alamy method for selling low-priced images for blog, educational, or social-networking use - has rolled out internationally. At first, it was only available in Britain. Now that I’ve had a chance to check it out, frankly, I’m beginning to wonder just what my problem is with it.
The terms of the sale are clearly spelled out - this is noncommercial, nonadvertising, strictly for personal or educational use - and as long as those terms are honored, they will benefit buyers and sellers immensely. The photographers who participate now have a whole new market, one that is just now emerging. After all, blogs and social networking sites didn’t even exist a few short years ago.
My major discomfort is that I can’t choose which of my pictures go in to Limited Use. It is either all or none. I would very much like to leave selected photos out of Limited Use - but right now we can’t do that. Alamy is considering ways to give us that option.
When they do, I’ll sign up and try it out.
Check it out at www.alamy.com.
June 13th, 2008
Here’s a petition to sign, against the Orphan Works legislation:
June 12th, 2008
Alamy revealed its first ‘Novel Use’ initiative: A method by which bloggers, social network users, educators, and students can use photos from Alamy at minimal cost (between 60p and 1.60 pounds, or something over $3 US). The use must be private, noncommercial, non-advertising, and non-business.
There’s been a strong backlash to this announcement, with concerns expressed that Alamy was becoming a micro site. This is an over-reaction, in my opinion; the uses are clearly limited and won’t interfere with business use. Their normal pricing structure remains the same. This new model just allows them to tap in to a previously ignored market. Micros are a reality; this is one way to deal with them.
I actually like the idea, with one big exception. I’m not convinced these people will buy photos at all. If they do, I hope they will be told all about copyright, and be trained to understand that they can’t give the pictures away or use them in any way except as licensed. I’d much rather give them the picture to use, with the user understanding and agreeing to limitations.
My concern is photos sold this way would be copied and moved around, posted on other blogs etc, and eventually become orphan works, in which case the photographer could lose his/her rights.
Like many Alamy shooters, I really don’t know whether I will go with this or not. Yet Alamy has done me well so far; perhaps a little more blind trust is in order. I’m not comfortable with it, however.
I opted out. Distilling it down to the basics, the plan smacks of microstock. I want no part of that.
May 4th, 2008
Orphan works are creative content of any kind, that is subject to copyright, whose copyright owner can’t be found. Someone may want to use the content, but can’t find the person or company that would be able to give them permission. Legislation is under consideration that would create a way to make that use legal.
Obviously, this is something photographers in particular need to pay attention to - image theft is so easy, especially on the internet, that one of your photos could become an orphan without your knowledge. Someone lifts your image from a web page and uses it without permission. Now your image is floating in a whole new universe with no connection back to you, the legitimate owner of the copyright. Years down the road, someone else finds the image, decides to use it to illustrate an ad campaign or an article in a magazine; they decide it is an orphan work and your image is used without you receiving payment or copyright protection.
The same problem applies to any intellectual property - software code, a written report, a painting - as well as photographs.While we, as the creatives, may rail against this as theft of intellectual rights - we must look at the other side. Should a particularly fine piece of writing, or software code, or a historically important photograph, be kept in the dark just because its creator can’t be found? To me, the answer would be no. But the user must make a sincere effort to find the copyright owner, and a mechanism must be created to properly reward the creative if he/she is found some time later, after the use.
Obviously, this is a complex issue. For more information, start with this site: www.orphanworks.net written by Joe Keeley, a lawyer who was involved with the 2006 attempt at legislating orphan works, and is involved with the 2008 attempt. And don’t stay silent; the rights you protect by speaking out are your own. Let your legislator know how you feel about orphan works legislation and the need to protect creative content.
April 19th, 2008
I’ve been in a bit of a sales slump - one of those periods when doubts crawl the outer edges of your marketing plan, as nothing is going according to that plan. My history says I’ll have a nice sale soon, as with Rights-Managed you sell less often but you sell for more.
Our Australian friend Rob Walls just proved it. He sold a very nice picture of his lovely daughter for a major ad campaign, with several use rights purchased, for a grand total over $9,000. Specifically, the sale was 7 licences of the same picture, varying from $243.50 for ¼ page web use, to $3610 for 2500 billboards over 24 feet for a grand total of $9233.43. Other uses included point-of-sale, editorial in trade magazines and multimedia audio-visual.
If Rob had made this an RF image it would have gotten one price, probably $300 or so, for all those uses. If it had been microstock it probably wouldn’t have been purchased for this use, as the buyer was willing to pay for exclusivity. The sale was made on Alamy.
Congrats, Rob! And thanks for sharing the info - it is keeping me motivated during a slow time for me.
March 11th, 2008
As Rob Walls reported, Alamy followed through on their promise to speed up QC. Rob probably set a record - 18 hours from the click of the shutter to a keyworded image ready to go live. I finally almost caught up to Rob, with my last 3 submissions passing in 2 days or less. The drought is over! No more losing a month’s worth of uploads because one of the images had an interpolation artifact.
Now it’s back to work… got lots of photos to process and upload.